Mechanics' Institute Chess Club Newsletter #442

What is important is to take chess, and what chess teaches you, everywhere for the rest of your life. The enjoyment, the concentration, the work ethic, the pride, the friendship - all are more important than rating points or the ability to find a mate in four. But for a few, chess is like a native language, as beautiful as any music, as any work of art. And maybe it will become as special to you as it was, and is, to me.

Inspiring words spoken by Garry Kasparov on April 3 at the SuperNationals IV in Nashville.
1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
2) Veni, Vidi, Vici, Vinay
3) Akobian defeats Shulman
4) USCF seeks FIDE Zonal President
5) Ray Robson 2009 Samford Scholar
6) Here and There
7) Upcoming Events
1) Mechanics' Institute Chess Club News
April was birthday month for some of the Nestors of the Mechanics' Institute Chess Club. We recognized IM Walter Shipman who turned 80 a few weeks ago, but add longtime MI Trustee Neil Falconer (86)  and  Dan Litowsky (92) to the list. Incidentally, Dan, who has been a fixture in the Tuesday Night Marathon series the last 15 years, only started playing tournament chess in his 60s. Last night he won a very nice endgame against Joe Russell that will be featured in the next Newsletter.
Evan Sandberg and Peter Grey drew on top board in round seven of the Spring Tuesday Night Marathon leaving first place up for grabs with one round to go. Sandberg leads with six points with Grey, Oleg Shakhnazarov and Larry Snyder are half a point back.

9th Annual Mechanics' Institute Chess Camp for Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Players

  • This is not a camp for players that want to jump two rating classes in five days. You won't learn how to win against the Sicilian every time using the Grand Prix Attack. So why our camp and not others? At the MI camp you will get a look inside a top players' laboratory and get a feel for how they work on their game from the ground up. You will learn not only the importance of analyzing your own games, but also how to do it properly. You will learn to identify the critical points of the game and to understand when and why things went wrong.
  • You will learn how to use ChessBase and Fritz efficiently as part of a daily training program as well as utilizing resources on the Internet such as TWIC and the Internet Chess Club.  Today chess books are cranked out at an incredible rate. Some of them are very good, many are quite bad. We will help students learn to select that which is truly useful.
  • Instructors:   International Master John Donaldson and MI Scholastic Director Anthony Corrales.
  • Who: Open to all ages from 8 and up.
  • When : July 20 - 24, 2009  from 10 am to 4 pm
  • Where: 57 Post Street, 4th floor (Montgomery BART station)
  • Cost: $320 for Mechanics' members, $355 for junior (under 21) non-members, $415 for adult non-members. All non-members will receive a one year membership in the MI.  There is a limit of  40 players for this camp.  If  you can't attend the whole camp there is a drop in fee of $80 a day.
The late A.J. Fink was not only a giant in the field of problem solving and composing and solving he was also one of the first two masters produced by the Mechanics' Institute (the other being Walter Romaine Lovegrove). Below is an appreciated that ran in Chess Review (Volume 3, Number 3, March 1935).

Who's Who In Problemdom

By Maxwell Bukofzer


The problem master I am introducing today to our family is in one respect the most remarkable chess personality in the United States. He is not only, like his predecessors in this series, one of the greatest problem composers, internationally reputed, but he carries the rare and unusual distinction of being the only American problemist who has achieved an acknowledged ranking position as a master of the game. From the beginning of his chess career he has maintained leadership on both fields of chess with an ease and thoroughness that astonish the chess world. This dual competence is all the more amazing, because he is not a chess professional, but an amateur whose vocation in life does not permit him ample time for the study of chess.

A. J. Fink was born on July 19, 1890 in the City of San Francisco, California, where he still resides today. He received the fair schooling provided by Uncle Sam for all of his children. Qualifying for the Postal Service he later abandoned it in favor of a business occupation and became Traffic Manager for a large wholesale concern. In 1928, however, he returned to his first vocational choice, the Postal Service, in which he is employed at the present date. Long hours and hard work granted him but little time to devote to the game he loves so well, yet by dint of perseverance and his great talents he conquered the enviable position as an undisputed leader in both sections of chess which he now holds so securely.

He turned to chess in 1906 during the memorable time when the earthquake nearly demolished the city of his birth. On the field of board chess it took him only 7 years to climb to the position of a champion. In 1913 and again in 1916 and once more in 1919 he was Champion of the well known Mechanics" Institute of San Francisco. This was, however, a mere start. In 1922 he rose to the dignity of a State Champion of California. Like all thoroughbreds Fink came back to win the State Championship again for two consecutive years, 1928 and 1929.

He participated in numerous tournaments, always finishing with scores that proved him to be a master of the first rank. Among the great masters against whom he was successful are such experts as Torre, Kupchik, Kashdan, Mlotkowski, Dake and Steiner. Truly an enviable record that speaks its own language.

One wonders what Fink would have been able to accomplish had he not been compelled to treat chess as a mere hobby.

Such is A. J. Fink, the valiant board master.

Great as he is as a chess player, he is even greater to us of the composing craft as one of the outstanding adepts of the problem art. His work in the problem field is of a caliber and style peculiarly his own. It would be hard to decide what problem school he preferred. Fink is one of those fortunate problemists, at home in every school, with a natural master"s touch that is the envy of those who have to labor hard for their measure of glory.

While competent and brilliant in all of his problem work Fink paid special attention to the difficult type of problems known as taskers. On this field he won some of his highest honors and the task problems he gave to problemdom, some of them realizations of themes declared impossible of accomplishment before he entered the ring, have procured for him what his acumen and genius richly deserves, the rank of one of the chess realm"s most respected and esteemed master composers.

Let me call your attention to one of the republished problems, the one that appeared in the "Grand Rapids Herald" two years ago. You note, of course, that the problem is a miniature. You also are aware of the echo play. You admire the quiet continuations. But are you mindful of the peculiar feature that in this charming problem the Black King is posted and remains throughout the entire variation play in a mirror position?

To fully appreciate Fink"s problems, lightning solving will be of no assistance. You have got to study his work diligently and attentively to find some of the hidden feature incorporated in them.

Fink is, like all great masters, honest and modest. That is why, though I requested a list of his honors, he failed to supply it. I can merely assure you that I know, as I glance back into the past, that he has won a great many prizes and encomiums.

There is one more remarkable achievement to the credit of this gifted, versatile composer. Turning to Fairy Chess, he invented a clever new piece which he named the "Billiard Knight". I am at present studying this new piece. As soon as I feel that I understand its moves properly, I am going to present the innovation in "Fairyland". The "Billiard Knight" has all the earmarks of deserving and attaining the popularity of the Grasshopper.

Such is A. J. Fink, the problem adept.

He is still a young man of 44 years. If the past is indeed a proper criterion of the future, great deeds on both fields of chess may be expected from this splendid representative of American Chess. Let me express my sincerest wish that good health and prosperity shall be his lot and that he will continue on the path of glory for many, many years to come.

Three cheers for the "Pride of San Francisco"!

2) Veni, Vidi, Vici, Vinay
Last week we reported on several American successes aboard but neglected to mention native son Vinay Bhat's tie for first in the 32nd San Sebastian International Open. Long-time MI member GM Bhat scored 7 from 9 in the event held  April 5th to 12th in the northern Spanish city.
Here is Vinay's key eight round victory where he strongly answers Black's new idea in the Meran (15...Qb6 in place of 15...Nc5).

Bhat,V (2475) - Alsina Leal,D (2503) [D48]

San Sebastian (8), 2009

 1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nf3 Nf6 4.Nc3 e6 5.e3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bd3 a6 9.e4 c5 10.d5 c4 11.Bc2 Qc7 12.0"0 Bb7 13.dxe6 fxe6 14.Qe2 Bd6 15.Nd4 Qb6 16.Be3 Bc5 17.Rfd1 0"0 18.a4 Bxd4 19.Bxd4 Qc6 20.b4 cxb3 21.Bxb3 b4 22.Na2 a5 23.f3 Ba6 24.Qe1 Rfe8 25.Rac1 Qb7 26.Qg3 Rad8 27.Rc7 Nh5 28.Qd6 Nf8 29.Qe5 Ng6 30.Bxe6+ Kh8 31.Qxg7+ 1"0

3) Akobian defeats Shulman

Varuzhan Akobian took on Yuri Shulman in a four day rapid and blitz match in Lake County in Northern California from April 22nd to 25th. There were 6 rapid games over three days followed by 10 blitz games on the final day. Games were broadcast live on ICC with Macauley Peterson on hand to produce several videos. Akobian won the rapid section 3.5-2.5 before defeating Shulman 6-2 in the blitz on the final day.Time control for the Rapid  was 25 minutes plus 5 seconds per move increment. The Blitz time control was five minutes per side without increment. The prize fund for the match was $10,000.

Official site:

Organizer Thomas Sutherland is to be strongly commended for putting on this event which helped to promote chess while also supporting top level players in this country. The United States has always had strong players but the present level of depth in both the adult and junior ranks is unmatched. Whether this will lead to more world class players is unclear. This decade the AF4C - particularly Eric Anderson,  Frank and Jim Berry, Rex Sinquefield- sponsor of the 2009 US Championship and  the major contributor to the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis, and the Kasparov Chess Foundation have all been very generous. Their efforts have been focused almost exclusively on helping the USCF run the US Championship and in the case of the KCF send teams to Olympiads. Besides these two events the US Chess Federation really hasn't been involved in top level chess in the United States since Ed Edmonson was Executive Director in the 1970s.

Recently Hikaru Nakamura was asked the following question on his blog (

US Chess has lost many promising young players in the last 25 years because they knew they couldn't make a living as chess professionals. What are your thoughts and feelings about this as it relates to you and your future?

Nakamura responded:

There is a wide variety of reasons as far as why US chess seems to lose most of its promising players, however, it ultimately comes down to whether people can make a living or not. Over the years, I have known many players who have had a deep love for the game, but everyone wants to be able to live comfortably and chess simply does not afford it. Now, due to my current rating levels, I am making a respectable living so I cannot complain, but for most GMs it is all about traveling all the time and not making very much money. This is a tough lifestyle which not many people are suited to.

More people like Thomas Sutherland are needed in American chess.
4) USCF seeks FIDE Zonal President by Bill Hall
April 28, 2009
USCF is now accepting applications for the volunteer post of FIDE Zonal President for the U.S. Zone.  Our previous Zonal President, John Donaldson, did a fantastic job but has moved on to allow himself more time for playing.  I would like, on behalf of the USCF and personally, to thank John for all of his efforts and his dedication.

The Zonal President is expected to attend FIDE meetings (at least those held at Olympiads), with no expenses provided, and support the US position regarding FIDE issues and candidates.  He or she should also be available to help our top players, arbiters and the USCF office submit proper title norm applications, to answer questions from top players regarding FIDE and Masters issues and keep them informed, and to help the office transmit information and invitations to our top players.

Preferably, the Zonal President should be a FIDE rated Master, or an organizer or director with experience in holding FIDE norm events.  Applicants should contact Executive Director Bill Hall at no later than May 12. The Executive Board expects to make the appointment at its meeting in Saint Louis May 16-17.
5) 2009 Samford  Chess Fellowship won by Ray Robson  by Allen Kaufman

Contact: Allen Kaufman(718) 544-5036

Ray Robson of Largo, Florida, a fourteen year old International Chessmaster ("IM"), has been awarded the twenty-fourth FRANK P. SAMFORD, JR. CHESS FELLOWSHIP. Ray is home-schooled and is able to devote four or more hours per day to chess study.

Ray has been playing chess since the age of three and entered his first tournament when he was seven. He reached the IM level when he was thirteen and is currently the youngest player in the United States with this title. His first major tournament victory was the 2008 Miami Open, then tied for first in the Florida State Championship. He has defeated many international grandmasters ("GMs") and is working toward that title himself now.

Robson"s trainer has been GM Alexander Onischuk. Because of financial constraints the lessons have been mostly by telephone. With funding provided by the Samford Fellowship the training can now be substantially increased and conducted face-to-face. Travel to strong foreign tournaments and other assistance will now also be possible.

The Samford is the richest and most important chess fellowship in the United States, providing brilliant young American chessmasters the support and resources necessary to enhance their skills and reach their full potential. The total value of the Fellowship is approximately $36,000 per year. The prize is awarded for one year, beginning July 1, 2009, and is renewable for a second year.

The winner was chosen by the Samford Fellowship Committee, consisting of Frank P. Samford III (son of Samford Fellowship founder Frank P. Samford, Jr.), former U.S. Chess Champion Grandmaster Arthur Bisguier and International Master John Donaldson. The winner"s potential was determined based on his chess talent, work ethic, dedication and accomplishments. The Fellowship is administered by the U.S. Chess Trust with particularly valuable services provided by Barbara DeMaro.

The purpose of the Samford Fellowship is to identify and assist the best young American chessmasters by providing top-level coaching, strong competition and access to study materials. The Fellowship also provides a monthly stipend for living expenses so that the winners may devote themselves entirely to chess without having financial worries.

Since its inception the Samford Fellowship has proven very successful. Several of the Fellows have become Grandmasters and a few have won the U.S. Chess Championship and played on the U.S. team in the chess olympiad.. The full list includes:

  • Joel Benjamin
  • Maxim Dlugy
  • Patrick Wolff
  • Alex Fishbein
  • Ilya Gurevich
  • Alex Sherzer
  • Ben Finegold
  • Gata Kamsky
  • Josh Waitzkin
  • Tal Shaked
  • Boris Kreiman
  • Dean Ippolito
  • Greg Shahade
  • Michael Mulyar
  • Eugene Perelshteyn
  • Varuzhan Akobian
  • Dmitry Schneider
  • Rusudan Goletiani
  • Hikaru Nakamura
  • David Pruess
  • Josh Friedel
  • Irina Krush
  • Vinay Bhat

The Samford Chess Fellowship was created by the late Frank P. Samford, Jr. of Birmingham, Alabama. Mr. Samford was a distinguished attorney and CEO of Liberty National Life Insurance Company (now Torchmark). Mr. Samford was active in civic, business, political, educational and cultural affairs. He was also an enthusiastic competitor in chess tournaments.

Generous contributions from Mrs. Virginia Samford and Torchmark Corporation support the Fellowship. The Samford Fellowship is a fitting memorial to an extraordinary man. The dedication, creativity and achievement that marked Mr. Frank P. Samford, Jr."s life are examples for all chessplayers to admire and emulate

6) Here and There
Kenan Zildic and Romulo Fuentes tied for first with 3.5 from 4 in the top section of the Frank Doyle Open in Santa Rosa this past weekend.  Seven-year-old Tanuj Vasudeva won the second section with a 4-0 score to raise his rating to 1827. Paul Stagnoli directed and Mike Goodall organized the 47 player event.
Jan Nagel  reports that Yasser Seirawan scored 4/4 in the 2008-2009 Dutch Team Championship for performance rating of 2798.
Sevan A. Muradian, founder and czar of the North American Chess Association ( writes about upcoming events in the Chicago area.
US Champion Yury Shulman chess camps:

GM Shulman will be holding two (2) chess camps, one in June and one in July. The trainers include:

  • GM Yury Shulman
  • GM Alexander Onischuk
  • GM Gregory Kaidanov
  • GM Varuzhan Akobian
  • FM Alexander Betaneli
For more information on the camps including dates and fees please visit Yury Shulman's website at

GM/IM Norm Event Update

From August 22 thru August 26, 2009, the North American Chess Association, will host the 24th NA FIDE Invitational. We will be departing from our standard round robin (all play all) format and using the Swiss System format to allow for a larger pool of participants before the end of summer. The tournament will be held in parallel to the 2009 US G/60 and US G/30 National Chess Championships at the Holiday Inn North Shore Hotel in Skokie , IL.

Event Prizes: 1st - $1500, 2nd - $1000, 3rd - $750, 4th - $500, 5th - $250. Top U2450 - $500 Top U2350 - $500 Entry Fees (all based on FIDE ratings from April 2009 rating list and are non-refundable upon registration):

  • 2451 + - Complimentary entry
  • U2450 - $125 by 6/15, $150 by 7/1, $175 thereafter based on availability
  • U2400 - $150 by 6/15, $175 by 7/1, $200 thereafter based on availability
  • U2350 - $175 by 6/15, $200 by 7/1, $225 thereafter based on availability
  • U2300 - $200 by 6/15, $225 by 7/1, $250 thereafter based on availability
  • U2250 - $300 by 6/15, $350 by 7/1, $400 thereafter based on availability
  • U2200 - $400 by 6/15, $425 by 7/1, $450 thereafter based on availability
  • U2100 - $500 by 6/15 - must commit by 6/15 (only 4 spots available)
There are a minimum number of spots available but this can change at the organizers discretion:
  • U2100 - 4 spots to be guaranteed by 6/15 or gets to the rest of the pool
  • U2200 - 5
  • U2250 - 5
  • U2300 - 10
  • U2350 - 10
  • U2400 - 10
  • 2401+ - 20
  • $50 off registration for first 10 paid foreign federation entries
  • $50 refund for staying 2 nights at the Holiday Inn North Shore
  • $100 refund for staying at the Holiday Inn North Shore for the entire tournament
If you are going to take advantage of the hotel discount you must provide proof of the hotel bill. If players are sharing a room, the discount will be equally refunded to all players staying in the room.

Registration for this event will soon be available.

If any questions please email me at

Good Chess to All,

Sevan A. Muradian
FIDE Arbiter and International Organizer
North American Chess Association


7) Upcoming Events

MI Events - full details at

Charles Powell Memorial May 9

3rd Ray Schutt Memorial Blitz May 10


Northern California and Nevada

May 2 (Oakland)

1st MAAT Science Village Chess Club Tournament on May 2nd from 11am to 3pm. The 7 round event with a $5 entry fee and a guaranteed first prize of $100 will be held at the Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland. Call ( (510) 290-7907  or e-mail ( Marvin Willis for more information. Players are requested to bring their own clocks and sets.


May. 23-25 or 24-25   Memorial Day Long Swiss (Adult/Regular) 

6SS 30/90 G/60 (2-day option first 3 rounds G/60 merges in round 4). 4423 Fortran Ct., Suite 160, San Jose, CA 95134.. EF: $66 for 3-day, $65 for 2-day. $16 more after 5/19.
Prize fund: $3360 b/85




































Format & Time Control (3day) 6SS x 30/90 G/60; (2day) Rounds 1-3> G/55; Rounds 4-6> 30/90 G/60 (merges with 3day in Round 4).

Rounds times (3day) 5/23 11am, 4pm every day. am, 3:20pm; 5/23 11am, 4:10pm.

Onsite registration: 5/23 10-10:30am | 5/24 8-8:30am. (2day) 5/24 9, 11:15am, 1:30, 4pm; 5/25 11am, 4pm.

Entry Fee:  $66 for 3-day, $65 for 2-day; $19 fee for ea. section playing up; re-entry $33

Entry: Online at or mail to BayAreaChess 4423 Fortran Ct., Suite 160, San Jose, CA 95134. Payable to BayAreaChess

Info: NS NC W


Southern California


May 2-3
11th Annual Los Angeles County Championship
5-SS, 30/85, SD/30 (1st 3 rounds), 40/2, SD/1 (last 2 rounds). Sierra Vista Rec Center, 311 N Rural Drive, Monterey Park, CA 91755.
$1000 guaranteed: $300-150, U2200, U2000, U1800, U1600, U1400 each $100, U1200 $50.
EF: $39 if rec"d by 4/30, $45 at door. Special option for HS/below: $15, 10 trophies only.
SCCF membership req"d of So. Californians: $18, $10 jrs.
Reg: 9-9:40 am,
Rds: 10-2-6, 10-4.
Inf: Randy Hough (626) 282-7412,
Ent: SCCF, PO Box 205, Monterey Park, CA 91754.
WCL JGP. GP: 6. State Championship Qualifier.